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I remember the day, by
Tyler, TX US
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I remember the day
Many have told me that it is impossible to have remembered something that long ago. I had to have been too young. I had not even started to talk. How could I possibly remember the first time I got drunk?
Well, I do. My family and I were at my grandfathers house in New Jersey. It was spring or summer, the date mattered naught. My sister and I were sitting on the picnic table in the backyard. My grandfather had a beer and handed it to my sister for a sip. At the time, in the northeastern Irish-Catholic, drinking held no danger as it seems to in the present. A man came home from work and drank a beer to wash down the effects of the day&dust from the road, sweat for labor, and frustration at not making enough money. As children, we yearned for the company of the men in our life. We both had absent fathers and my grandfather and favorite uncle were the benchmark for male influence in our young lives. They drank and we wanted to be just like them. At least, that is, we wanted to be like the men that held us, hugged us, and told us we were beautiful and worthy.
As the afternoon went on, we asked for more sips of the beer in Poppys hand. My sister held me in her arms and put me down whenever she was delivered the dark amber bottle. I reached for the bottle and we struggled for a minute. Poppy scolded my sister and told her to give me the liquid ambrosia. I tilted the bottle to my lips and drank deeply. I never have understood the concept of a sip. I never have understood how some one could just imbibe a little when a lot was obtainable.
I think back to that day and memories flood in. My sister sitting there crying. The taste of this infusion of malt and hops capturing me, and holding me in its grip has never left me. I recall a strange feeling coming about. A feeling of&delight that seemed to speak to me telling me that nothing mattered, or, would ever matter as long as I kept drinking. I remember Poppy admonishing me for emptying the bottle. Not so much, however, in any way that meant a thing to me. All I wanted at the time was to continue to inhabit this place that the beer took me. All there was at that moment, and for the next forty years, was euphoria. Ecstasy in a bottle that could be found in every refrigerator of every house I ever lived in.
Strange as it may sound, I have thought of that day every time I popped the tab, mixed a drink, or tipped a bottle to my lips. I have spent my life in the grips of my gentle friend that became a brute and ultimately turned me into a ravaging barbarian. Where it took me, and what I did while in its embrace is subject for another page. Right now, I feel compelled to put that day on paper.
I never understood why that day and the memory of that fated time held so much intensity within me. A few years ago, about the time of my tenth anniversary of the miracle of recovery, I discovered the answer. At a family event, birthday, and barbecue, we sat around the table after eating telling stories of the family. This evolved into a session of home movie viewing, and browsing the family photo albums. I came upon the picture of that day so long ago. We all laughed at the sight. I looked at my sister, and felt remorse for the pain of her tears. I looked at my dear grandfather smiling, and I stared at me holding that bottle to my lips. Underneath the picture was the year the picture was taken. The date astonished me. I looked at the number for a long time. 1954. The vividness of the faded black and white picture only made the feeling in me stronger. I thought of all those times I brought that sip to my mouth. I thought of all the times I woke to the overwhelming fixation to get to that next sip in spite of the illness it caused. I thought of a happy young child that just wanted to feel better and did not know why. Finally, I thought of my birthday. June 21, 1953.
tHE STORY ABOT A SIGNIFICANT EVENT IN MY LIFE.
Comment Posted By:
on Jul 22,2012
I was amazed at how this story effected me emotionally. I enjoyed this write very much. I look forward to reading more from you.
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